Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Mascarpone Frosting

Well, it’s officially fall. Minnesota had a good run of it, with some nice warm days halfway through October. But then the temperature dropped, my plants had to come inside, the cat spent a happy night frolicking in the plants (spreading dirt everywhere while ingesting too many leaves), and the plants had to go back outside. To meet a frosty death.

Dark story, huh?

Autumn is complicated. I’m mourning the end of a (miraculously) successful summer growing season while celebrating fall flavors like squash and cranberries. I bit the bullet and made pumpkin spice syrup for my lattes already. And then I decided to give a shout-out to my Boston peeps by making pumpkin whoopie pies.

Here’s the low-down on the maple mascarpone frosting: I love, love, love the smooth, mellow taste of mascarpone, but it has a lower melting point than cream cheese, so the whoopie pies are not as hardy and can quickly become a melty, delicious mess. If these need to travel and/or sit out for a bit (like at a potluck), make a cream cheese frosting. If they will simply be transferred from the refrigerator to your mouth in 30 seconds flat, do the mascarpone. It’s awesome.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Mascarpone Frosting

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Mascarpone Frosting

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Mascarpone Frosting

Whoopie Pies

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Maple Mascarpone Frosting

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz.), softened
  • 8 oz. mascarpone or cream cheese (see note above), at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs. real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Make the whoopie pies: Preheat oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil until well combined. Whisk in the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg) and whisk until smooth.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, a few inches apart, onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheets.

Make the frosting: Beat butter using a stand or hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add mascarpone and beat for another 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar until combined. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, raise speed to medium again, and beat until light and fluffy, another 2 minutes or so.

Assemble whoopie pies by sandwiching two cookies around a dollop of frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

How the heck have I not made this before? I mean, really, searching the “frozen treats” section of this blog is kind of embarrassing. Ice cream flavors alone include chocolate, strawberry, Mississippi mud, coffee, cake batter, pumpkin, vanilla-chocolate swirl, seven layer bar, cookie dough, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and cookies ‘n’ cream. And then there’s fro-yo, sorbets, popsicles, and granitas.

And yet, I had never made straight-up peanut butter ice cream. Something was clearly wrong.

Despite the plethora of frozen treats on this blog, Gabe and I don’t actually eat sweets very often. So in order to make room for my ice cream maker in the freezer, I had to rearrange 3 lbs. of butternut squash ravioli, 2 lbs. of frozen pulled pork, a loaf of bread, a half dozen whole wheat muffins, and seven different kinds of frozen vegetables. The veggies showed their displeasure by flinging themselves at me whenever I opened the freezer door. Luckily it was all worth it, because this ice cream is divine.

If you’re one of those strange ducks who enjoys a peanut butter jelly sandwich (spoiler alert: I am not one of them), it would be pretty awesome to swirl some jam in the finished ice cream. But if you’re a purist like me, just grab a spoon and dig in.

Peanut butter ice cream

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Peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter (I used unsweetened, since there’s plenty of sugar in the ice cream)
  • 2 2/3 cups half and half (I used lactose-free whole milk, as usual)
  • a pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Chill at least 8 hours, and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Source: The Perfect Scoop.

Butternut Squash Tortellini in Garlic-Sage Broth

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, a national government stopped working. And federal employees found themselves sent home without pay. This was bad news all around, but it was slightly mitigated by the fact that at least one food blogger acquired a  sous-chef for a lovely afternoon cooking session.

And that was how my sister found herself not working for a great senator from the state of Minnesota, but perched at my kitchen island, folding dozens of butternut squash tortellini. Thank you, furlough.

I initially served this tortellini with cranberries, pecans, and a brown butter sauce, but I wasn’t a huge fan. (I don’t think I’ve fully grasped the concept of brown butter yet.) I much prefer this pasta lightly covered with a warm, garlicky broth, so the butternut squash flavor can shine. The sage lends a touch of sophistication to the dish, but it’s still comfort food at heart.

If you need a refresher course in how to fold tortellini (it’s fun, I promise!) click here.

Butternut Squash Tortellini in Garlic-Sage Broth

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Butternut Squash Tortellini in Garlic-Sage Broth

Butternut Squash Tortellini

  • 1 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. dried nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 recipe homemade pasta, or 1 package wonton wrappers

Garlic-Sage Broth

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 sage leaves
  • kosher salt
  • freshly grated parmesan

Make the tortellini filling: Preheat oven to 375° F. Toss together squash, 1 Tbs. olive oil, basil, oregano, and rosemary on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until squash is soft, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in shallot and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree baked squash, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Stir in nutmeg, ricotta, and salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out fresh pasta and slice into squares, or use wonton wrappers. Place 1 tsp. filling on each square and fold. (For more in-depth instructions, see here.) Reserve 24 or so tortellini and freeze the rest.

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.

Meanwhile, make broth: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in stock and sage leaves and bring to a boil. Once the stock is boiling, remove the sage leaves. Continue to boil until the stock has reduced to about 2 cups, about 10 minutes, and add salt to taste.

When the broth has 4-5 minutes remaining, add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Spoon tortellini into bowls. Top with broth and freshly grated parmesan.

Serves 4 first courses or 2-3 main courses.

Source: Tortellini adapted from Giada De Laurentiis. Broth adapted from Alice Waters, via Valleybrink Road.